LAHAINA - As graduation quickly approaches, Lahainaluna High School seniors have a lot on their minds - what school to choose for college, scholarships, what to do for the summer, what career path to pursue, and the list goes on.
One item to check off of that long list is the completion of their Senior Projects.
The Class of 2013 at Lahainaluna High School concluded the presentations of their Senior Projects this month.
Lahainaluna High School senior Devin Bonnell makes his presentation on carpentry.
Project presentations culminate the venture that the seniors start at the beginning of the school year.
As a large part of their English and social studies grades for the year, each student chooses a topic of interest, finds a mentor who is an expert in that field and spends at least 20 hours with him/her learning more and getting hands-on experience in the chosen area.
The project requirements also include a research paper, portfolio with visual documentation, PowerPoint presentation and a formal oral lecture before a panel of faculty members, students and community members.
"At Lahainaluna, the Senior Projects enable the students to explore areas of interest that they may not have had the opportunity to discover otherwise, and give them the ability to ascertain whether or not that field is truly something that they would like to later investigate," explained Martina Nagasako, the school's Parent Community Networking Center facilitator.
Students have the choice to focus on one of three areas: community service, career shadowing or self-development, such as learning a new skill.
Students choose various topics, including, but not limited to, coaching youth sports, producing decadent creations in the culinary field, landscaping, construction, creating a community service project (such as a food drive), logging service hours at Maui Humane Society or even exploring artistic fields such as photography, jewelry-making, painting and music.
Lahainaluna Librarian Tara Otomo helped seniors with the research process for writing their papers and helped coordinate the scheduling of the presentations.
She stated that the purpose of the projects is "to showcase everything that the kids learn, be it communication skills, presentation skills and the ability to synthesize information from experience and academics into a cohesive project that can be shared with the community.
"It took everything that these kids have been learning - from kindergarten all the way up to the 12th grade - to put these projects together as a capstone to what they have learned in the past 13 years."
Nagasako added, "The students take all that they have learned and then present it not only to the teachers that have helped them along the way in their high school careers, but also to the students and community who have been a part of the Lahaina community all throughout their lives."
Devin Bonnell, a Lahainaluna senior, presented his project to a panel of Lahainaluna faculty, community members, a fellow student and mentor Dino Rivera on what he learned in the world of carpentry.
At the end of his presentation, community member Alan Kawaguchi mentioned, "I've known Devin for a long time, and he's come a long way."
The community is given the opportunity to see how far the students' learning has progressed, and how far it will take them as they venture into the world as adults.
When asked how he felt about completing his project, Devin said, "I'm proud of myself. I accomplished something."
Nagasako concluded, "This feeling of accomplishment should be felt not only by the seniors who have completed their projects and are one step closer to graduation, but also by the faculty and staff who have taught them, the parents who have raised them and the community who have supported them along the way.
"Lahainaluna High School would like to thank all of those that helped to make the Senior Projects a success this year, from the teachers and community members who came in to evaluate the presentations, the mentors who took the time to guide the students and the entire Lahaina community for helping to turn our children into highly regarded young adults."